JELD-WEN: opening doors… responsibly!
13 August 2012 Furniture & homeware
There is an old riddle that says “When is a door not a door?” and the answer is “When it’s ajar [a jar]!” Now, a new twist on this would be to say “When it’s a JELD-WEN door!”
Founded in the USA in 1960, JELD-WEN, Inc. is the world’s foremost manufacturer of wooden doors, window frames and staircases. Present in 22 countries globally, the company currently employs nearly 20,000 people. It established its European presence in 1993.
Today, the European wing is present in 15 European countries from the Baltics to the Pyrenees and has production facilities in 12 countries where it employs around 6,000 people. Its headquarters are located in Løgstør, Denmark. It sells its products all over Europe.
JELD-WEN products are so much more than simply doors. Made from wood including oak, walnut, cherry, maple and many other species, they are found in private homes, public buildings such as schools and hospitals, and landmark and cultural sites throughout Europe.
Thanks to a team that includes designers and master craftsmen, its products are crafted with careful attention to texture, colour and aesthetics and designed to complement their natural and physical surroundings. Keen to ensure that its products are robust and capable of resisting the elements, the company also provides accessories including hinges and handles and subjects them to stringent testing, notably for resistance to fire, rain, heat and cold and to ensure that they do not expand or contract unduly thereby creating a good fit.
JELD-WEN is not simply mindful of aesthetics and quality control, it also has a firm commitment to environmental sustainability. It is this commitment which recently inspired the company to obtain certification for its products and operations, including PEFC Chain of Custody and FSC certification. Its products for external use are also CE marked. This certification applies to its European operations.
The decision to seek multi-site certification was a logical next step for a company that already has a strong environmental and social ethos. Indeed, JELD-WEN has chosen to use wood as the main input for its products because if sourced responsibly and transformed in the correct conditions, it is probably nature’s only fully recyclable resource. Furthermore, products can be manufactured with low CO2 impacts and the wood residues can be put to other uses too.
Prior to certification, the company’s environmental commitment already expressed itself in a policy to only work with suppliers that have a similar environmental commitment. Indeed, the company already has in place a European Preferred Supplier programme.
To qualify suppliers must adhere to a strict set of criteria and sign up to a Code of Conduct. They also have to be able to guarantee stable and consistent quality and adhere to environmental and employee welfare standards – many similar to those required by PEFC. Because many of the raw materials used by the company are available worldwide JELD-WEN also evaluates, compares and recommends suitability for becoming a supplier in collaboration with a Global Sourcing Group.
In addition to being driven by the company’s environmental philosophy and commitment, the decision to achieve PEFC Chain of Custody certification was also based on sound business acumen. As European societies become increasingly aware of environmental challenges, so there is growing demand among customers for products made with wood sourced from sustainably managed forests and whose manufacture and transformation are also environmentally and socially safe.
The decision to become certified will therefore increase the customer base and help secure return customers and customer loyalty. Commenting on this, Christian Frisk, JELD-WEN’s European CCO says, “We have a sustainable timber sourcing policy and are extremely proud to have the multi-site chain of custody certificates for our European operations. We selected PEFC and FSC as we share in their commitments to sustainable practices and in addition both these schemes are widely recognized amongst our customer base. Our policy is to offer our customers as broad a range of chain-of-custody certified products as possible, and currently we have FSC and PEFC doors available across Europe.”
Finally, the decision was also motivated by the forthcoming EU timber regulations due to come into force in March 2013 and which place an obligation on operations that provide timber products to the European market to ensure that only timber products which have been produced in accordance with the regulations enter the EU. “Through a close cooperation with our entire supply chain together with our multi-site certificates we will secure full compliance with the new legislation,” said Frisk “not because others expect it, but because it makes good business sense and it’s the right thing to do.”
In light of decisions already in place within JELD-WEN, implementing PEFC certification within the company did not prove to be a huge challenge, require a shift in employee philosophy or important change management. Because the company already had a commitment towards sustainability as well as a Code of Conduct for suppliers, much of the ground work had already been done. According to Maja Steffensen, Marketing Coordinator, the greatest challenges rested in increased need for administration to manage the requirements of certification and clearing existing stock which although sourced and produced to the highest environmental standards, nonetheless was unable to carry the logos attesting to this.
JELD-WEN’s decision to obtain PEFC Chain of Certification at this particular juncture, which coincides with efforts to embark on an even more sustainable direction in the future and is characterized by changes to legislation in the wider European context, represent the culmination of one stage in its history and the start of a new phase. Going forward the company fully intends to build upon its certified status to continue to provide doors of the highest environmental and social quality.